Thursday, October 16, 2008

Little wisps of a beautiful white, that just happened to be there. I go close, they flutter slightly in the wind that blows through my hair. I take a quick picture, hoping for beauty to remain. It does too. I want to take it in my hand and feel its invisible tickle. But then, I know, some things are best left as they are.

(Pictures taken at in the thickets of the beautiful range of Mandalpatti. The miles of mountains, just a few of us humans, a blazing fire that I embraced. A beautiful day it was, a beautiful memory.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Soul Sister to get Married!!!!!!

Pic courtesy: the internet

I just could not wait till tomorrow. I set my dozen problems aside when I write this aside. I don't feel like smiling, but for her I will grin today. I know if and when the best friend Raksha sees this, she is going to hate me. But I cannot resist, I need to say this....
(Drum roll please....)
The best friend, the girl I grew up with, my soul sister, ma's adopted daughter, Raksha the Great (as she used to call herself as a teen, with sarcasm) is getting married!!!!!! Finally!! Phew! To Pradhan, working in Bangalore. The last fact is the best part. Finally, my support system and I will be in the same city. Only when your best friend, the one who counsels you on everything from your hair cut to your career decision is away from you and you can only call her up at 1 am, only when such a person is away will you understand how thrilled I am.

Raksha and I have been friends for over a dozen years, probably because we are the only ones who will listen to each other and tolerate each others' crazy, insane behaviour. Raksha is the one I grew up with, who spent all our holidays at my home. The one who would breeze in with a quick hi and walk right into my kitchen to eat whatever was there. The one who always understood; I never had to explain why I did or thought what I did, she just always understood. We fought over marks. We fought over little things that girls do when in their teens. When she learnt to ride a bike, I was the only one willing to go with her. We would go all over town on her Kinetic. When she fell over her bike the only time in her life, I was there; I fell with her. We made junk jewellery together. We tried to bleach our jeans once and ended up tearing them into pieces (my dad laughed his head off and this is the first story that comes up at all gatherings!)We talked and cribbed about math classes, lousy teachers, stupid classmates, then college and studies, lecturers, crushes, then hostel, then work. And now we will crib about marriage and husbands ;-) (cheeky grin!!!)

Ma called us 'jodu-yetthu', literally meaning a pair of cattle; a Kannada usage that denotes something that is always together. Raksha and I are of the million arguments, the million heart talks, the years of laughter. Raksha is the one who never fails to make me laugh. Cynical, sarcastic sometimes. Plain funny, at most times. Raksha of a million stories together. Part of my two pronged support system, the sister I never had, the soul sister rather.

Love you girl :-* May you be the happiest ever. And Pradhan, you are one very lucky man! (There babe, I said it!)

(Giggles! Thinking of how much she will hate all this mush!!!)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Life on the Other Side of the Road

Every once in a while, I get up in the morning and wonder, just like that, why exactly I chose to be a journalist. I ponder over why I choose to run around the city all day long, burn under the sun, punish my lungs and skin with the pollution and put up with the weirdest assortment of people. These come gushing in to my mind, in a rush. And then I think of the stories I hear, the fact that every day is a different day, that I would have killed myself out of boredom in any other job that is more disciplined in its hours and its job profile. Every once in a while, something happens, I meet someone or hear or see something and I am reminded of all that I love about what I do, that despite everything, its the passion that brought me here, its that same passion that keeps me going.
Why did I start this now? (Ma's right, I really can't stop writing once I start!) Ah yes, this morning's story. Walked to my assignment this morning, rather clueless and feeling very hot under the scorching sun. And then I walked right into a slum!

I was sitting there, waiting for a long time but for once, even without a book, without messaging, I was not bored. I saw there so much of life, the kind that is so raw, where human emotions are stripped of its usual masks that society, education, culture and propriety teaches us to don. Crude words, loud shouts that were heard above the blaring speakers. Naked children, chattering in crass words. A dog sleeps in front of a closed door, oblivious to all the commotion; for once the little kids are not bothering him. There is a bright blue door. Next to that a green one, with big yellow dots, red lines within that. A stench that I have come to associate with slums everywhere. A little baby, wearing what is probably her elder sister's hand-me-down. Very narrow lanes, crowded with clothes hung out to dry, some framed picture, another dog and an open drain. A tiny store that is dispensing bubble gum. A subtle hierarchy that I begin to notice among the boys and the men around; some rather stylish in dangerously low waist jeans and pierced ears, some older with girls drooling over them, some watching on in awe, anticipating the day they will do all that. Flirtations, among those of all ages, a girl in class 9, whose sister befriends me, is all eyes for a taller, older man who shows off to her his swanky mobile phone.

I am mistaken for an orchestra singer! Must admit, I did look very out of place. The stage is milling with children, in all sizes, in all variations of baritones! For a while, I can't help but wrinkle my noise at the smell. A little while later though, my eyes take over and watch another side of life. The houses are small, I am tempted to peep into them, but then, that would almost be a romanticisation of the idea of the glamorous poverty life, I chide myself. Yet, I strain my neck a wee bit and see pots and pans stacked one upon the other. A thin trickle of dirty water flows by. There are some wet clothes that are yet to be washed on one side. On the other, more clothes hung out to dry. Slightly older children are amused for a while. The beat of the drums gets them tapping their feet. But the younger ones look up and suddenly, the we-don't-really-care look is back on their faces and they move away to resume a game. The little ones, with either too short or too long clothes hang around and are silenced by the adults every few minutes. But the drums begin to beat and they cannot stop their feet from taking steps of its own. Uninhibited joy. A bored girl looks by, her eyes skirt away from the teen who is posing nonchalantly for her benefit. A slight twinkle though appears in the corner of her eyes. I turn back and see some eyes look at me with curiosity, some with other thoughts. Staring in front of me and on the sides is better, I decide. The speaker blares every now and then. A girl, Vijayalakshmi, I think her name was, talks to me. She passes on a rupee coin to her sister and gets a bubble gum. Her sister is still in school, she dropped out some time ago, she smiles when I ask her why. I guess I understand, she had to look after the house and the younger siblings; its a common story I hear. Her younger sister flirts with someone she definitely has a crush on; he seems to reciprocate.

In a little while, the place fills up. One of the organisers plops himself in front of the microphone and reels off a list of people that he wants to come on to the dais. Through the noise and my amusement, the programme begins. I walk out after a while, a girl smiles at me prettily. There is no longer anything there that interests me. I am through observing life on the other side of the road.